The following 15 Best Online PhDs' in Counseling build advanced understanding in various facets of counseling. With flexible distance learning options, they offer students both quality and convenience.

Doctoral counseling programs develop individuals' ability to consider the delicate and multifaceted factors of counseling practice. Counselors can carry a great deal of responsibility, as their work often involves fragile aspects of their clients' lives. Such aspects include – but are not limited to – age, gender, race, and sexuality. Advanced study can, therefore, be vital in consideration of modern ethical and professional issues in the field.

Doctoral degrees in any field require a wholehearted commitment of students' time and energy, but this doesn't mean students need to uproot their lives or sacrifice their professions. Online Ph.D. degrees offer students flexible options for pursuing advanced education and developing their ability to counsel sensitively and effectively.

The following 15 Best Online Ph.D.s' in Counseling include various perspectives on and approaches to counseling. The list includes programs emphasizing professional, ethical, psychological, and educational factors in the field. Graduates of the program can move into roles in the academic or clinical areas of mental health counseling. Generally speaking, counselors advise people who suffer from various human problems. They may work as behavioral disorder counselors, substance abuse counselors, mental health counselors, or school or career counselors.


The staff of Grad School Hub has compiled the following 15 Best Online Ph.D.s' in Counseling for the 2019-20 academic school year based on public data released from educational, commercial, and government databases. Data contributed from sources such as the National Center for Education Statistics, and the U.S. Department of Labor plays a significant role in how graduate degree programs are ranked because institutional transparency is essential for deciding which career path is right for you. Based on this data, GSH organizes information into five weighted categories, which are:

  • Alumni Feedback: 20%
  • Continued Enrollment: 20%
  • Degree Selectivity: 10%
  • Graduate Expenses: 25%
  • Projected Annual Salary: 25%

A more comprehensive evaluation of how each category is determined and scored is accessible through our Ranking Methodology page.


Here are the 15 Best Online Ph.D.s' in Counseling for 2019 – 2020!

#15 – Amridge University

Doctor of Philosophy in Professional Counseling

Montgomery, AL


Amridge University offers a Doctor of Philosophy in Professional Counseling through its School of Human Services. The degree can be completed partly online and partly in traditional classroom settings. Applicants are assumed to have already obtained professional counseling licensure, and the program itself does not lead to licensure. The 60-credit, research-oriented curriculum studies areas such as abuse, addiction, human development, and diversity. Required courses include Counseling for Change, Relational Sexual Therapy, and Systemic Interventions in Abusive Relationships.

The university was founded in 1967 as the Alabama Christian School of Religion. Its primary function was as a theological seminary focused on Bible education and Christian Counseling. Classes were initially offered in facilities of the College Church of Christ. The university maintains its affiliation with the Churches of Christ and now has a main campus in Montgomery, AL. The campus consists of the single two-story Morgan W. Brown Building, which houses classrooms, a library, and administrative offices. A leader in online education, all Amridge programs are offered primarily through distance learning.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $6,900

#14 – University of Nebraska – Lincoln

Ph.D. in Psychological Studies in Education, specialization in Counseling Psychology

Lincoln, NE


The University of Nebraska – Lincoln offers one of the oldest accredited counseling psychology programs in the country. The university offers a full-time Ph.D. in Psychological Studies in Education. Students pursuing the degree can choose from four specialization areas, including Counseling Psychology. The Ph.D. program covers studies such as Community Counseling, Multicultural Counseling, and School Counseling. The program also includes a year-long, off-site, pre-doctoral internship. All students participate in doctoral research seminars and complete a doctoral dissertation. The degree takes an average of six years to complete.

UNL was chartered in 1869 as a land-grant institution under the Morrill Act. Located in the capital city of Lincoln, it is the oldest university in the state of Nebraska. It is also the largest in the University of Nebraska system. The university has three campuses in Lincoln: City Campus, Nebraska Innovation Campus, and East Campus. The Innovation Campus is a research park on the former Nebraska State Fairgrounds. The university conducts trailblazing research in areas such as early childhood development, food and water security, and nanoscience. U.S. News & World Report ranks UNL 95th in the nation for best value and 61st among public schools.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $8,978 in-state; $24,098 out-of-state

#13 – The University of Akron

Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology

Akron, OH


The University of Akron offers a Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology program. The program uses an apprenticeship model and has a strong focus on social justice. It explores theories of psychotherapy, diversity, and supervision in the counseling psychology field. The curriculum includes courses such as Lifespan Gender Development, Oppression and Social Liberation, and Psychopathology. Two years of practicum are necessary at the university's Counseling Psychology Clinic, and an additional two years are required at external research sites. Students must also complete a course sequence in research and statistics. Other requirements include completion of a thesis project, doctoral dissertation, a comprehensive exam, and an approved internship.

The university was established in 1870 as Buchtel College. It was named after its most significant donor, businessman John Buchtel. Today, the University of Akron is a public research university and member of the University System of Ohio. It is focused on STEM academics, emphasizing research in areas such as engineering and polymers. The university is also home to one of the nation's longest-running cooperative learning programs, which incorporate hands-on learning into program curricula. The Carnegie Foundation classifies the university as a community-engaged university for its curricular engagement and outreach and partnerships.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $10,270 in-state; $18,801 out-of-state

#12 – Hampton University

Doctor of Philosophy in Counselor Education and Supervision

Hampton, VA


Hampton University offers an accelerated online Ph.D. in Counselor Education and Supervision. The 64-credit curriculum covers counseling, supervision, and teaching, with concentrations in school and community mental health counseling. Courses include Advanced Group and Systems Theory, Counseling Leadership and Advocacy, and Grant Writing. Students also complete a qualifying exam, counseling practicum and internship, and a doctoral dissertation with an oral defense. Admissions requirements include a personal statement, writing sample, and appropriate licensures and credentials. Each course spans 16 weeks, and the entire degree program can be completed in three and a half years.

Hampton is a historically Black university with a prominent role in civil rights history. The University found its roots under a large oak tree, where Mary Smith Peake taught classes for the American Missionary Association. The tree was also notable as the site of the first reading of the Emancipation Proclamation, leading it to be called the Emancipation Oak. The oak remains as part of the National Historic Landmark District of the university. Notable Hampton alumni include the mother of Martin Luther King Jr. named Alberta Williams King; and Booker T. Washington, influential African-American educator. U.S. News & World Report ranks the university 52nd for best value and 27th in the South.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $25,441

#11 – Eastern University

Ph.D. in Marriage and Family Therapy

St. Davids, PA


Eastern University offers a Ph.D. in Marriage and Family Therapy with residencies on the university's main campus in the Greater Philadelphia Area. It is a Christian doctorate, integrating theological theory and religious perspectives in Marriage and Family Therapy. The 60-credit curriculum includes courses in Human Sexuality, Trauma and Family Systems, and Couples Therapy Theory and Practice. All students complete a doctoral project, a practicum in Marriage and Family Therapy, a comprehensive exam, and three credits in Field Supervision of Counseling.

Eastern University began in 1925 as a department of the Eastern Baptist Theological Seminary. It became a separate institution in 1952 and moved to its current location in St Davids, PA, near Philadelphia. In addition to its main St Davids campus, Eastern has three Philadelphia locations: Center City, Falls Center, and Esperanza College. It also offers certain programs in Harrisburg, PA; Ripley, WV; and Rwanda, Africa. The Christian university remains affiliated with the American Baptist Churches USA and has an interdenominational Christian student body, faculty, and administration. U.S. News & World Report ranks Eastern 76th for best value and 74th in the northern region.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $32,145

#10 – Fordham University

Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology

New York, NY


Fordham University offers a Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology program. Students entering the program with an undergraduate degree must complete the requirements for the university's Mental Health Counseling master's degree to move into doctoral work. The curriculum emphasizes multicultural counseling, professional ethics, and social justice. Required courses include Assessment in Personality, Experimental Design, and Psychometric Theory. Faculty research areas include developmental psychology, the immigrant experience, identity development, mindfulness, racism, and women's issues. Doctoral students participate in practicum courses and externship experiences. The program includes a year-long, faculty-sponsored research apprenticeship. The degree generally takes six years to complete. Graduates of the program have among the best psychology licensing exam pass rates in the country.

Founded by the Catholic Diocese of New York in 1841, Fordham is the third-oldest university in New York. The private research university is also the only Jesuit university in New York City. Its original campus, Rose Hill, was a 106-acre farm in the village of Fordham, later consolidated into the Bronx. The Rose Hill campus is characterized by its greenery and Gothic architecture. Today, Fordham has two additional campuses: Lincoln Center, near Central Park; and Westchester campus, in West Harrison, NY. U.S. News & World Report ranks the university 70th in the nation.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $50,986

#9 – Texas Woman's University

Doctor of Philosophy in Counseling Psychology

Denton, TX


Texas Woman's University offers a Doctor of Philosophy in Counseling Psychology. Each student completes a minimum of four semesters in practicum placements, plus a full-time year in an approved internship. Core courses include Cross-Cultural Psychology, Cognition and Emotion, and Philosophical and Historical Foundations of Psychology. A unique feature of the program is its Professionalism Benchmark, which is completed in the fall semester of the second year. The Benchmark consists of written and oral assessments of students' progress through the program. Each student completes a comprehensive exam in the form of a written Clinical Jury and an oral exam. Finally, students must complete a doctoral dissertation and defend it orally. Students are required to enroll in the program full-time prior to candidacy.

Established in 1901, TWU has held several names in its history, including the College of Industrial Arts and Texas State College for Women. Today, Texas Woman's University is a co-educational public university. It is the largest state-supported woman-focused university in the nation. It has a main campus in Denton, TX, and health science branches in Dallas and Houston. It is classified as a comprehensive research and doctoral university by the Carnegie Foundation. TWU is noted for The Woman's Collection, one of the country's largest and oldest collections of materials about the United States women's history. Major archives in the collection cover women's aviation, culinary arts, and more. The collection is held at the university's Blagg-Huey Library.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $7,486 in-state; $17,446 out-of-state

#8 – Regent University

Ph.D. in Counseling & Psychological Studies

Virginia Beach, VA


Regent University offers a fully online Ph.D. in Counseling & Psychological Studies. The program incorporates research, statistics, and Christian leadership. The application process includes an interview conducted via phone or Skype. Students can choose from 11 concentration areas, including Addictions Counseling, International, and Life Coaching. The 51-credit-hour curriculum is comprised of 16-week course sessions. Sample courses include Addictive Behaviors, Indigenous Mental Health Care, and Disaster Trauma & Psychological First Aid. Students must complete a doctoral dissertation and a culminating capstone course in Psychological Sciences & Christian Thought. Approximately 86 percent of graduate students entering the program receive financial aid.

Regent was founded in 1977 by televangelist Pat Robertson as Christian Broadcasting Network University. The private Christian research university is primarily located in the coastal city of Virginia Beach, VA. The campus is comprised of 70 acres of neo-Georgian architecture. In 2015, Best Colleges Online named it among the 30 most beautiful college campuses in the South. Regent has also been named one of the fastest growing universities in the nation. The university gives students the option to enroll solely on campus, fully online, or a blend of both.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $17,288

#7 – Liberty University

Ph.D. in Counselor Education and Supervision

Lynchburg, VA


Liberty University offers a Ph.D. in Counselor Education and Supervision. The degree program is built around student mentorship. The curriculum covers advanced topics in counseling, leadership, advocacy, and research. It incorporates a biblical perspective and emphasizes ethics and diversity. Core courses include Advanced Group Counseling, Advanced Research Design, and Counseling Leadership & Advocacy. Each core and the elective course has a one-week intensive portion during which students connect with faculty and peers. Curriculum features include a research practicum and doctoral dissertation. Each student must also complete an internship in counseling, research, and leadership; supervision; or teaching. The entire degree can be achieved in an average of just three to four years.

Liberty was founded in 1971 as Lynchburg Baptist College. Today, the university is one of the largest Christian universities in the world and the largest private nonprofit university in the nation. While a portion of students are enrolled on campus in Lynchburg, VA, the majority are enrolled online. The campus includes facilities such as a synthetic ski slope, Equestrian Center, and an Observatory Center with high-quality telescopes. It is also home to the nation's only museum dedicated to exhibits about religious activity during the Civil War era. The university is socially conservative and plays a prominent role in Republican politics.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $21,310

#6 – University of the Cumberlands

Doctorate of Educational Leadership in Counseling Education & Supervision

Williamsburg, KY


The University of the Cumberlands offers a Doctorate of Educational Leadership with a specialization in Counseling Education & Supervision. The program is designed for those who hope to work in administrative positions for behavioral health agencies. The doctorate differs from a Ph.D. program because it focuses on practitioner skills rather than a research-intensive approach. The degree also emphasizes collegiate academic leadership in particular. The program is comprised of 60 post-master's credit hours and can be completed on a part-time basis. Core courses include Multicultural Issues, Ethical and Legal Issues, and Leadership & Advocacy. Students can choose courses from the specialty areas of Addiction, Advanced Counseling, Assessment, Christian Ministries, and Leadership. Students complete the program with a doctoral dissertation.

Founded in 1889, University of the Cumberlands was originally called Williamsburg Institute. It was established by Kentucky state legislature and is managed by the Kentucky Baptist Convention. The private, religious college has a campus in Williamsburg, KY, which features an inn, conference center, museum, and science complex. The campus is located 190 miles from Cincinnati, OH, and 70 miles from Knoxville, TN. The school emphasizes innovation, liberal arts, and community service. U.S. News & World Report ranks it 115th in Best Online Graduate Education Programs.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $23,000

#5 – University of Iowa

Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology

Iowa City, IA


The University of Iowa offers a Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology which emphasizes the science of psychology along with advanced professional skills. All students must have a bachelor's degree from an accredited university for admittance. The program requires at least 111 graduate credit hours, plus 12-15 dissertation credit hours. The curriculum covers the psychological areas of biological, cognitive-affective, and social bases of behavior as well as history and systems. It also includes statistics and research design courses. The Counseling Psychology core consists of classes in Multicultural Counseling, Personality Assessment, and Issues and Ethics in Professional Psychology. Students also spend a year in an approved internship setting. Most internships require students to relocate. Culminating experiences include dissertation research and a comprehensive exam.

The University of Iowa is the oldest university in the state. It is the flagship public research university of Iowa and the second largest university in the state. The university is Carnegie-classified as a Doctoral University with Highest Research Activity and a member of the prestigious Association of American Universities and the Universities Research Association. It operates world-renowned research programs in genetics, hydraulics, and speech and hearing. With a strong liberal arts foundation, Iowa is also home to world-renowned writing programs including the Iowa Writers Workshop. U.S. News & World Report ranks the university 89th in the nation and 88th for best value.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $8,965 in-state; $30,609 out-of-state

#4 – University of West Georgia

Doctor of Education in Professional Counseling and Supervision

Carrollton, GA


The University of West Georgia offers a Doctor of Education in Professional Counseling and Supervision. The program emphasizes program evaluation, clinical and administrative supervision, and advocacy and leadership. It is formatted for students to apply learned knowledge through continuous professional practice. Each student begins the program in the summer in a cohort of 12 students. The program begins with a required on-campus orientation, but the remainder of the program is completed entirely through distance learning. Students enroll in two courses per term. Courses include Ethics in Educational Leadership, Professional Writing, and Leadership and Diversity in the 21st Century. Students complete the program by defending a doctoral dissertation. Those with a specialized education degree can complete the Ph.D. program in two years, while those without can complete it in three.

The University of West Georgia began in 1906 as the Fourth District Agricultural and Mechanical School. Its original purpose was to offer practical education to rural youth. Since then, UWG has grown into a public university. In addition to its main campus in Carrollton, GA, the university operates learning locations in Atlanta, Newnan, and Douglasville. Newnan courses are taught in the historic Newnan Hospital. The UWG marching band is known as "The Sound that Lights the South," with its 140-plus members incorporating high energy and dance numbers. UWG is a Carnegie-classified doctoral university. U.S. News & World Report ranks the university 132nd in Best Online Graduate Education Programs.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $6,226 in-state; $17,010 out-of-state

#3 – Oregon State University

Ph.D. in Counseling

Corvallis, OR


Oregon State University's Ph.D. in Counseling incorporates extensive student research and an understanding of changes in modern society. All applicants must hold a master's degree in counseling or a related field. The program follows a cohort model, and each student is guided by a faculty mentor. It is offered in a hybrid format, with each course including both online and face-to-face learning. Face-to-face courses are held in Wilsonville, OR, twice per quarter in a Friday-through-Saturday block. The 150-quarter-credit curriculum explores topics such as career counseling, diversity and social justice, and group counseling. The program does not lead to professional licensure. The degree takes three to five years to complete.

OSU was established in 1868 as a land-grant university. Its early college-level curriculum was administered by the Methodist Episcopal Church. It is now a nonsectarian public university with land, sea, space, and sun grants. It is one of only three U.S. universities to hold all four of these designations. The Carnegie Foundation designates the university as having the highest level of research activity and strong community engagement. Its research areas include forestry, marine sciences, and sustainable food systems. The university has a main campus in Corvallis, OR, in the Willamette Valley. It also operates a branch campus called OSU-Cascades in Bend, a marine science center on the Oregon coast in Newport, and a new center for hybrid learning in downtown Portland. U.S. News & World Report ranks OSU 70th among public schools and 37th in innovation.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $10967 in-state; $29,457 out-of-state

#2 – University of Maryland

Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology

College Park, MD


The University of Maryland's Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology is a collaboration between the university's Department of Counseling, Higher Education, and Special Education and its Department of Psychology. The curriculum consists of general psychology courses, small counseling psychology seminars, and applied counseling experiences. Major courses include Ethical and Professional Issues in Counseling Psychology, Multicultural Issues in Counseling Psychology, and Theories and Strategies of Counseling Psychology. The course sequence also includes two semesters of statistics courses. Students must complete a Counseling Psychology internship, thesis, and doctoral dissertation. Graduates of the program are eligible for psychologist certification and licensure exams.

UMD was chartered in 1856 as the Maryland Agricultural College. Today, the university is the flagship institution of the University System of Maryland. Located in College Park, it is the largest university in Maryland and the Washington metropolitan area. The campus is a designated arboretum and botanical garden. UMD is a land-, sea-, and space-grant institution categorized in the top tier of research universities by the Carnegie Foundation. It is also labeled a "Public Ivy," meaning its educational quality is comparable to the private Ivy League. U.S. News & World Report ranks the university 63rd in the nation and 22nd among public schools. The school mascot is a Diamondback terrapin turtle, the state reptile of Maryland.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $10,399 in-state; $33,606 out-of-state

#1 – Lehigh University

Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology

Bethlehem, PA


Lehigh University is home to Grad School Hub's No. 1 Online Ph.D. in Counseling. The program takes a multicultural perspective, embracing professional development concerning factors such as age, disability, gender, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, spirituality, and race. The program's professional counseling training is rooted in psychological science and social justice. The doctoral degree program is comprised of 103 credits, including 30 at the master's level and 70 at the doctoral level. The doctoral major core consists of courses in Advanced Multicultural Counseling, Culture-Centered Career Intervention, and Advanced Research Methods in Applied Psychology. The curriculum also includes Research Methods courses, advanced practicum and seminars, a Supervision Apprenticeship, and a Counseling Psychology Doctoral Internship. Students culminate the program through a qualifying research project and doctoral dissertation. The degree is typically achieved in five to seven years.

Lehigh was established in 1865 by businessman Asa Packer. Today, it is a private research university in Bethlehem, PA, 50 miles from Philadelphia and 75 miles from New York City. It is organized as three campuses: the Asa Packer Campus, the Mountaintop Campus, and the Murray H. Goodman Campus. The university has a student-to-faculty ratio of 9:1, and an average class size of 29 students. The Lehigh Mountain Hawks are members of the Patriot League and have an athletic rivalry with the nearby Lafayette College. The university is ranked 53rd in the nation and 27th for best value by U.S. News & World Report.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $50,740